Dealing With Too Much Stuff
The Boomer Burden—Dealing with your parents’ lifetime accumulation of stuff
You can only imagine what I see each day as I venture into the homes of people getting ready to dissolve the estates of loved ones who have passed away. It is an amazing view into the world of human nature—who wants what, the fights over money and things, the greedy relatives coming out of the woodwork, families not understanding the values of things, etc. You name it, I’ve seen it, and not much seems to surprise me in the realm of estate settlement.
Having spent almost 18 years perfecting the process of estate dissolution for my clients and those wanting to learn my area of expertise, I have uncovered a vast need that virtually no one is tending to. And soon enough it will be near epidemic level, because no one thinks about it until it actually happens, and you find yourself in the midst of a crisis.
Our parent’s generation is leaving behind more stuff than any generation in history. You see, the Depression Era is known for never throwing anything away, and not always very good at letting it go, either. Their parents, our grandparents, actually owned very little by comparison and therefore their accumulation was not dealt with, but absorbed by our parents’ generation. This leaves the boomer children in a quandary. Instead of just handling mom and dad’s stuff, they now have to deal with multi-generational items at the same time.
Divide and conquer
As overwhelming as it is handling the death of a parent, it becomes absolutely grueling when the kids have to dive into the estate face-first: Divide the estate, handle feuds that arise and clear out the home in a short period of time. We are members of the Sandwich Generation, trying to juggle our work, our children, spouses and houses. And of course, we have our own “stuff.” Then it occurred
is because there has never been anyone to show them how to go through the process in a logical and timely fashion. No worries—help has arrived! My book, The Boomer Burden – Dealing With Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, is a must-have book on how to go through the process from beginning to end, offering trustworthy guidance every step of the way. This is what I do, and I truly love helping others during times of crises.
The Boomer Burden will teach heirs and their aging parents how to:
• divide your parents’ estate with peace of mind
• minimize fighting with siblings during the estate settlement process
• clear out the family home in ten days or less
• identify potential items of value in the home
• have “that conversation” with your parents
• prepare your own children for the future
You may be wondering how I ever got into this line of work. It happened innocently enough and turned into a real eye-opener.
Receiving a phone call from someone in crisis is common at my office, but when the phone rang one afternoon, and it was a colleague claiming an emergency, I knew the matter was very urgent. My colleague said one of his clients, who was preparing to move to a safe environment for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, was at home alone when her neighbors—so-called friends—and a few antique dealers all decided to pay her a visit on the same afternoon. (Word spreads like wildfire any time an older adult begins downsizing an estate, and I caution you to pay close attention to this story so you can protect your loved ones.)
This elderly woman, suffering from Alzheimer’s, was alone in her home, which was filled with many valuable possessions. Apparently several people, who had found out that she was moving into an assisted-living facility, came by to “purchase” all of her assets. My colleague had tried to get the dealers out of the house, but no one took him seriously. Knowing that I deal with this sort of thing daily he asked me to intervene quickly.
I had never met this elderly woman but knew
I was being asked to take care of a very difficult situation. You see, these neighbors and friends and dealers were literally stripping her home of her lifelong heirlooms, possessions that were supposed to be passed down to her children after her death.
Her children would never see those heirlooms again. The children never intervened and no one ever made a plan for the heirlooms and as a result, the dark side of human nature took over. The neighbors and friends helped themselves, throwing a $1 or $5 bill at her for items worth thousands of dollars. Sadly, they preyed upon her much like a vulture stripping a bone. In her advanced diseased state, she simply didn’t know any better. But they did. We’re supposed to help those who can’t help themselves, remember?
How I wished the family would have known to expect exploitation in times of fragility! How I wished everyone knew that in order to beat exploitation, you must expect it. This story is one I see frequently. One day, I had had enough and decided to write a book to assist the boomer children, and the elderly parents navigate the final chapter of their lives.
As the country appears to be out of balance financially and otherwise, it is especially important to recognize the values of personal property, because not everything is “junk” as you might perceive. More so today than previously, we need to empower ourselves against those vultures – the one’s who mean to exploit our parents in times of infimity, then attempt to exploit us, after we lose them. When it doubt, remember my personal motto: Eat your Wheaties and put your armor on. Always protect yourself and give thought to the unthinkable. No one wants to go there, but a little thought now will save you much heartache later. Take it from one who knows.